greatest respect that can be paid to anyone is let them assume
was Christmas holiday. John sat in the sofa in front of the television.
He was taking a break before he was to sit for the coming mock
examination in February. Seldom could the television interest
him.. As a matter of fact, John regarded watching television as
a habit other than anything. He had meticulously adopted himself
to a regular and industrious life-style that do little with television
and all sort of entertainment since the Summer holiday. However,
the programme did capture him. The programme was a review of the
year events, a matter of cut and paste and inviting some experts
to say a few words. He had a natural disdain for such sort of
programmes. In the programme, Mr. Tung was delivering his first
policy address. Of course, John could not call it our policy address
free from foreign influence as some narrow-minded nationalists
or opportunists would say. He had never approved of the honest
elderly, Mr. Tung. He was mean to criticize Tung as an aged man
of no trade and that his only card to play was to build up a reliable,
honest and diligent image. But Tung's word, another dishonoured
cheque it might be, " I believe the greatest respect that could
be paid to anyone is let them assume responsibility!" echoed in
his mind. When the programme came to the fatal avian-influenza,
his mind was still on the speech. The few words meant too much
to him. John would not call himself sentimental. Unlike most other
men, however, he would turn his experience and inner feelings
into words when there came something of extreme gravity or pleasure.
He turned his diary to the page with a day marked the 7th
of August, 1996. It
was not difficult at all for it was a loose page.
7th of August must be very familiar to those who have sat for
the HKCEE 1996. It was the day that the candidates had been
for impatiently and at the same time wished would not have come
so soon... It was the day the public examination result was announced.
of August, 96
is the word I would put for today. The result finally came, it
angered me! Never had the slightest idea of such a result flashed
in my mind. The only time I was frustrated was that I have skipped
lines for the first three questions in Chemistry. Pessimistically,
I assumed the three answers failed to score at all and I evaluated
I would manage to get a D(8) consequently... However, everything
failed to meet my expectation. My trump card, English, was completely
out of control. I could not accept the grade. For those subjects
that were supposed to be marginally B, they all turned out to
be C. I deserved grade B but I am deprived of them! Whom could
I possibly complain to ? I like to curse. "Is that you, God ?"
That was a blow to me, a really serious one. What could be worse
than that? I was lost, completely lost. There was no way out.
When I looked around, took in a deep breath, trying to divert
my attention, what I felt was that the earth was misted, unexplored.
My heart slowed down as if it did not pump. My vision was simply
the diffraction of light and things like that as Physics, which
I don't care a damn, would tell you. The coffin nail was hammered
when mum said, " I have told you, son, you should have worked
harder." She was meant to support me. When I was depressed, she
said no words to comfort but to blame me. She did not put herself
in my case. She went on with the attack, " I have told you, you
ought to study the Past Paper for every tiny scrap and detail
." She was not only scolding me. She was giving a lecture in front
of all my friends and classmates. " That explains why you get
A(1) in Commerce. It's in every sense correct for me to send you
to tutorial class." I was really cross with her. She gave all
the merits to the tutors but it was my efforts indeed. If tutors
were praised for the work of the students, they should be responsible
for the many failures as well. It hurt. Last night, she committed
a similar mistake. She took the duplicates of my Identification
Card and my school results since Form 1. I told her it would be
of no use and said, " Just put them back, I won't need it! ".
She shook her head and said," Just in case, my dear son... You
have assumed too much." I know very well she was doing in my
interests, but I would not appreciate it. It simply implied she
did not trust me. The HKCEE is a blow, but it is not the worst.
Failure in exam was nothing compared with failure in being trusted
by his own family member. I could not forgive her. It is unpardonable...
* * *
took a deep breath to hold his rolling tears. " You simply did
not trust me, mum." he murmured. " John, don't just stay in your
study. Come and help me to tidy the table." His mother complained
when the dinner was about to be served. John did not say a word
and went to help. After all, her mother had spent her most splendid
years to bring him up. After dinner, with the table tidied and
the dish washed, he returned to his study as his schedule strictly
required of him. But he declined to pick up any reference books.
He knew only too well that he could not concentrate on his study.
He continued to read through his "diary" I did not talk to my
mother for her words. There was no point to talk to her, she would
not understand. And even if she tried to understand, she simply
misunderstood and quoted my words out of context. I had my lips
sealed on the way home. It was not until sunset that I spoke again.
My friend rang me for a conversation. He began by suggesting,
"I assume you must be promoted to Form 6 in your own school and
take the stream of your own choice. That's why I feel free to
tell you my result." He was very excited. When it was my turn,
I did not conceal anything from my close old friend. He was swift
to give me examples of extreme, perhaps exaggerated, cases to
console me. It would not help. All I concern was my own result.
I reassured him I was all right for a matter as little as the
HKCEE would never be my ultimate goal. I brought our conservation
to others' results. I was surprised to realize the difference
in number of distinctions between two band one boys' schools,
his and mine, in the HKCEE. When it was my turn to reveal my school's
overall result to him, I said I was not at liberty to disclose
anything. I explained I was trying to imitate the bureaucratic
approach in the government. We both laughed.